How does the testing work?

Rapid antigen testing is a screening tool to help detect COVID-19. The Covid-19 Antigen Saliva Test is placed into the mouth to produce an accurate result in around 15 minutes.

What are the benefits of rapid antigen testing?

Rapid antigen tests are used internationally and in some Australian industries to screen employees for Covid-19. They can be performed easily and on-site with results available within minutes.

However, these tests have some limitations compared to the standard Covid-19 tests used at testing clinics. They are an important part of a broader solution to test for, and prevent the spread of, the virus.

How accurate are the tests?

Rapid antigen tests are screening tests and will detect most cases of Covid-19 but they are not as accurate as the standard test. A positive rapid antigen test should be immediately confirmed by a standard test.

Who can access rapid antigen testing?

Employers, industries, schools and government agencies can implement rapid antigen test screening and may engage a third party provider to manage this process. NSW Health has established a Rapid Antigen Testing - Framework and Standard Operating Procedure (PDF, 1.57 MB) to guide workplaces and schools conducting rapid antigen screening on-site. This can be obtained from the downloads section of our website.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has published guidance including a checklist to help businesses understand the key considerations for the safe implementation of Covid-19 rapid antigen point-of-care testing in their workplace.

Who can perform a rapid antigen test?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) conditions of supply require rapid antigen tests to be used under the supervision of a health practitioner who has been trained in the correct use of the device and interpretation of results.

Suitably trained staff can perform the test if they are supervised by a health practitioner, either in person or via video.

More information about who can supervise rapid antigen testing can be found under the frequently asked questions section of the TGA website.

How often should rapid antigen testing occur?

Testing every 72 hours (2-3 times per week) is recommended as a minimum for full time employees.

Daily testing is the gold standard, as this will help to identify positive cases early and avoid transmission on site. However, daily testing may not be practical for workplaces. This will be a matter for each business to determine based on their risk assessment and Covid-safe work plans in place.

What rapid antigen test kits can be used?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has registered a number of devices for use under the supervision of a health practitioner. Devices that have not been approved by the TGA cannot be used in Australia. The product sold through this website is TGA approved.

What are the costs of rapid antigen testing?

Organisations interested in using rapid antigen testing as a screening tool are responsible for procuring their own test kits, in line with the TGA requirements, and are expected to cover the cost of implementing testing on site. The requirement for a health professional to be on-site for this purpose can be obstructive for organisations. Rapid antigen testing is not covered under the Commonwealth’s Medicare Benefits Scheme.

COVID-19 tests for construction workers?

COVID-19 testing and vaccination requirements still apply to people from local government areas of concern entering construction sites in Greater Sydney. Find a full set of construction rules and restrictions.

If you live in or are temporarily staying in one of these affected areas, you must not enter a construction site in Greater Sydney unless you have:

• Two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or
• One dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at least 21 days prior or
• One dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within the past 21 days and you have been tested for COVID-19 in the past 72 hours or
• Evidence of a medical exemption and you have been tested for COVID-19 within the previous 72 hours.

The Chief Health Officer has confirmed that, where the requirement for a test applies, this test can include a rapid antigen test on a construction site in the way approved by the Chief Health Officer. Find out more about the Rapid antigen testing indicative process - under the supervision of a health practitioner (PDF, 434.47 KB) .

Workers visiting multiple sites per day do not need to be tested at each site, but will need to be able to show evidence of a test to comply with the requirements.

NSW Health recommends that electronic evidence of testing should be carried by the worker and demonstrated as required.

If you do have symptoms of COVID-19, you must not attend work. You will need to get a standard PCR test from a COVID-19 testing clinic and isolate until you have received a negative result. A PCR test is also required if you are a close or casual contact of someone with COVID-19.

When is the best time for people to take rapid antigen tests?

It depends on the organisation. For most business, it’s often best for employees to be tested before they start work. However, staggering rapid antigen testing throughout a shift may be more practical for larger organisations. This might be combined with strategies including dedicated zones and work 'bubbles' to ensure that any potential positive cases do not impact the entire worksite.

Many leading organisations have undertaken a risk assessment of their business needs to determine the best method of testing employees and have embedded the process into their Covid-safe plan.

What should happen for workers visiting multiple sites?

NSW Health has recommended the frequency of rapid antigen testing does not change for workers who visit multiple sites. NSW Health does not expect workers to be tested more than once a day.

However, NSW Health recommends that electronic evidence of testing should be carried by the worker and demonstrated as required.

What’s the recommended process in the event of a positive test result?

NSW Health advises that, if you get a positive rapid antigen test result, you must:

• immediately get a standard Covid-19 test at a specified NSW testing clinic to confirm the result of your screening test; and
• isolate until you get a negative result from NSW Health.

More information is included in the Rapid antigen testing indicative process - under the supervision of a health practitioner (PDF, 434.47 KB) .

What does it mean If you get a negative test result?

In line with the Rapid antigen testing indicative process - under the supervision of a health practitioner (PDF, 434.47 KB), where a person receives a negative result, they must have the test result registered with the testing supervisor. The person can then check out of the rapid antigen testing site and go to their work site.

Individuals must continue to follow the latest health advice and restrictions in their area. If individuals develop any symptoms, even if mild, they must immediately get a standard COVID-19 test and isolate until they get a negative result from NSW Health.

If I have Covid-19 symptoms should I take a rapid antigen test?

Rapid antigen testing is not appropriate if you have any symptoms of Covid-19. You should immediately get a standard test and isolate until you get a negative result from NSW Health.

Is personal data collected?

No personal data is used without consent.
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